Thursday, May 27, 2010

DOT releases $80 million in HSR grants

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The U.S. Department of Transportation has released nearly $80 million in grants as part of the first, $8 billion U.S. high speed and intercity passenger rail program. A portion of Florida’s $1 billion-plus allocation is now in the state’s coffers.

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The Sunshine State received $66.6 million for “program management and preliminary engineering on the planned 168 mph high-speed railservice between Tampa and Orlando, Florida,” DOT said in a release. “This project will create jobs and generate economic activity as 84 miles of track are constructed, stations are built or enhanced, and equipment is purchased. Along with California, Florida was the only state to submit plans to the Department of Transportation to create a brand new, high speed rail line.”

Of the remainder, $6.2 million was allotted for track relocation work in California on the Capitol Corridor, which will help bring about fewer delays and faster travel times along a route that connects the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento, the state capital. The funds would assist the Golden State’s $44 billion, 700-mile HSR plan only indirectly.

Another $5.7 million is targeted for environmental assessments of planned new stations on the route between Milwaukee and Madison, Wis., aimed to host passenger rail service operating at speeds up to 110 mph.  Similarly, $1 million is allotted for improved service on the Empire Corridor in New York, adding more right-of-way cleared to handle 110 mph trains.